I've been sending the boy out every day but as anyone that has a teenager knows, what you envisioned them doing is rarely what they do. He does a respectable job but we literally could fill bucket baskets with cherries.
I went out last night after work and in less than an hour had picked an entire Pyrex mixing bowl full. I can't just leave them. After all, I planted these trees so that we could have produce from our own land.
It's also a nice conversation starter with the neighbors who walk down the road. We got talking about cherries, then chickens....
|My cherry pickin chickens....|
And in mentioning the chickens, I keep a chicken bucket for any of the narly cherries. The chickens love their special treat.
But after picking all these cherries comes the second part of the process, how are we going to preserve them? After all, I still have tons of cherries from last year even after sending a bunch home with my parents on their last visit so clearly I don't need to freeze any.
And I have jelly up the ying-yang.
So this year I came up with a couple of different ideas.
Small Cherry Pies.
We've all seen and maybe made those little mini cupcakes but what about tiny pies? These would be great popping them into the mini muffin pan and baking off 24 of these for the holidays or the next time your child tells you at 10pm that he needs a dessert for the school bakesale or class. How about back to school? Wouldn't these be absolutely darling in your child's lunchbox?
I used my Betty Crocker pie crust and just popped them into each muffin tin. Docked it and put it in the freezer. Then once frozen, made the filling and filled each little pie with another Betty Crocker pie filling recipe. Froze again then popped them into a freezer bag for later baking.
Normal Cherry Pie
I always make a couple of pies to put in the freezer for the holidays or when the mood strikes for a pie. They always come out perfect and who has the energy to do yet another dish when life gets so busy.
Individual Cherry Cheese Cake
I was thinking along the lines of doing a black forest cake but Oreo crumbs were more expensive than graham cracker, so graham cracker won out. Again breaking out the mini muffin pan, I took one stick of butter and a cup of graham cracker crumbs and adjusted the measurements, now more butter, now more graham crumbs, until l I had the texture of fine sand. I pressed a bit in the bottom of each mini muffin cup and baked for 9 mins at 350 degrees. I let it cool and made the following three ingredient cheesecake filling.
3 Ingredient No Bake Cheesecake Filling (Makes a lot)
1 small can sweetened condensed milk
2 8oz cream cheese
1 tsp or more to taste, flavoring. Rum is good as is vanilla
Mix together until fully incorporated. Put on top of each muffin tin of graham crackers and make sure to leave space for the cherry pie filling. Use your favorite recipe
I got this idea from "Home Made in the Kitchen" (on Amazon currently for $. 01)** by Bluestein & Morrissey. (I highly recommend this book and bountiful kitchen for anyone who likes crafting and food... and foodcrafting). Their method, however, left a lot to be desired. They essentially have you put the cherries in a 140 degree oven for 14 hours! First, I've never met an oven that goes below 170 and after 18 hours, my cherries were slumped but still juicy. I finished these off in the dehydrator which I think I'll go directly to next time but the idea was solid.
These would be great as a snack in themselves or put in any place you'd use raisins such as cereal, granola or cookies. They are tart and tasty! This is where the majority of the cherries are going to from this point out. These would be fantastic in oatmeal chraisen (Cherry raisins) cookies.
Chocolate Cherry Bread
This is another entry from Homemade in the Kitchen. I made several. Perfect for those office Christmas gifts.
Cherry "Pop Tarts" This was an idea from a book that escapes me at the moment . I was a mite too generous and mine turned out like mini pies. I got four when I was supposed to get six and honestly after using the recipe in the book, there was no way to get these in the toaster without the fear of destroying the toaster. Back to the drawing board with this one.
Cherry Pit Pie Weights I wish I could claim this ingenious idea but alas I can't, I read it in the aforementioned book whose title I can't remember. Instead of wasting rice or beans, or buying pie weights, use the pits for pie weights. After cleaning these up I put them in a warm oven until they were cool. Now I can use them for any pie I have to blind bake.
This weekend will be the last of the cherry picking... after this they are fodder for the birds.
But it's nice to know that our land is bearing food to feed the family. Feel like a modern day pioneer...
* Graphics courtesy of the Graphics Fairy website. http://thegraphicsfairy.com/
***Bonnet is Google Images.